Coming Soon: GLOVES OFF!

So, this is Steven Miscandlon‘s well tasty cover for GLOVES OFF, the forthcoming anthology from Darren Sant and Craig Douglas, the people behind the NEAR TO THE KNUCKLE ezine

Gloves Off .

There’s more information about the anthology over at my latest Brit Grit Alley column at Out Of The Gutter online, where you’ll also find a guest post from Royston Blake, star of Charlie Williams‘ Mangel books.

 

Short, Sharp Interview: Charlie Williams

charlie williamsPDB) Your new book is called Made Of Stone. What’s it all about, Charlie?

Made of Stone starts with Blake wanting to go on holiday. He has his eye on a caravan up on the corner (belonging to someone else but never mind), and decides the best vehicle to pull it would be a hearse. And he just happens to know where there is a nice Mk.3 Granada one. He duly steals it, only to prang it into the back of a fast food van owned by one Jock “the burger man” McCrae. Now, Jock has been grieving of late after the death of his son, who fell from the roof of Rockefellers nightclub. But Jock is convinced that he was pushed – by members of the East European immigrant community which has recently settled in Mangel. Not only that, but Jock believes he has uncovered their secret. They are vampires.

Armed with this “knowledge”, a couple of Tesco bags full of wooden stakes and a seemingly endless supply of Bells, Jock sets about trying to rid the town of this menace. And he manages to rope Blakey into joining him.

 

PDB) Is Royston Blake a madman or a genius?

Definitely a genius. If you look at what he has achieved over the previous four books, we are talking about a man of serious capabilities here. This is not some young buck who wants to impress everyone with fancy long words and progressive ideas. This is a real man, who wants to impress everyone with the size of his pectorals. And progressive ideas about what Rocky III actually *means*. But like all good geniuses, he is also a bit of a madman.

PDB) Your books have been translated into a few languages. Are you surprised that Blakey’s world view travels so well?

Well, they have been translated into French, Italian, Spanish and Russian. I have known violent nutters from all of those countries. So to answer your question, not really.

MADEOFSTONEPDB) Is there any truth in the rumour of an HBO series based on the Mangel books or did I just make that up?

Just a rumour. Not that I’d be in a position to confirm or deny if it were true.

PDB) How do you think Blakey would get on in The Expendables?

Even though I haven’t seen The Expendables, I know Blakey would have some problems there. From the moment he joins that group, he will not see be able to see beyond the fact that he is in a room with Rocky Balboa. *The* Rocky Balboa, heavyweight champion of the world and inspiration for some of Blake’s finest moments… such as picking up a whole engine and chucking it through a wall in Deadfolk. I hate to say it but I think Blakey would be overawed. Until, of course, Rocky pisses him off.

PDB) Have you ever wondered which of the tiger’s eyes the Rocky song is on about?

It’s the right one. If you look at this clip here they are focusing on Rocky’s right eye, casting the other in shadow. That right eye clearly does not have the eye of the tiger, and that’s what Apollo is talking about. He wants to put the eye of the tiger in Rocky’s right eye via whatever means necessary. Swimming, skipping, formation dancing, running and hugging on the beach. Even eye surgery if it comes to it.

PDB) What’s on the cards for the rest of 2013?

I’m planning on getting some of my short stories out there as an eBook. Short stories is where it started for me. First one I had published was in 2000. A lot of them were horrorish back then but often skirting on the outer suburbs of crime. A big moment for me was hearing that a story of mine was going to be in The Third Alternative (a magazine now known as Black Static). I went out to celebrate with a take-out grande Americano from Caffe Nero, grinning at the other bemused punters in the queue and thinking “Yeah, you heard it right – I’m gonna be in The Third Alternative!” That story was Some Help From Stanley, and it will be in the little collection I have coming out some time soon.

CHARLIE WILLIAMS HAS A WELL TASTY BLOG HERE.

AND ROYSTON BLAKE TALKS ABOUT HIS SPECIAL NEEDS DOWN BRIT GRIT ALLEY

Brit Grit Alley Guest Columnists

Over the next few weeks I’ll be hosting a handful of  carefully selected guest columnists over at Out Of The Gutter Online’s Brit Grit Alley.

Last week, Nigel Bird had a gander at the BBC’s new series, Ripper Streer.

This week,  Richard Godwin is down Brit Grit Alley talking about Finance and Criminal Profit.

And coming up are guest columns from Tony Black, Charlie Williams, Darren Sant and more …

So, go on,  have a wander down BRIT GRIT ALLEY.

What The Hell Is Brit Grit ?

 

America may well be the  official home of pulp and noir but the United Kingdom, long  perceived as the land of True Brit Grit Guest Blog: It’s a Case of Having Good Genes! By Graham Smithtame Dame Agatha style cozies and stuck-up, Latin quoting police detectives, also has a grubby underbelly which has produced plenty of gritty crime writing. And there is a new wave of Brit Grit writers leaving their bloodstained footprints across this septic isle, too.
The godfathers of the new  Brit Grit could well be Ted Lewis, Derek Raymond and Mark Timlin with Jake Arnott, J J Connolly, Ian Rankin and Val McDermid as part of the next wave.
But in the last few years, more and more BRIT GRIT writers have been creeping out of the woodwork, through the cracks in the pavement, out of the dark and dingy alleyways.
Scottish crime writer Tony Black, for example, is the author of four novels featuring punch drunk, booze addled  Gus Dury, an ex  journalist turned reluctant Private Investigator whose shoulder has more chips than Harry Ramsden. The books  see Gus sniff around the back streets of Edinburgh and follow the rancid trail of crime and corruption right to to the top. They’re gruelling, intense and exciting journeys – not without moments of humour and tenderness. You may feel as if you’d like to give Gus a smack every few pages but the pit bull proves himself again and again.

Gus Dury may be in the gutter but he’s still looking at the stars, albeit through the bottom of a bottle of whisky. And it’s down to Black’s great writing that when you you finish one of his novels you feel battered and bruised  but can’t wait for the next round.

Pulp mastermind Otto Penzler  famously said that noir is about losers and not private investigators. Mr Penzler has probably never read any Tony Black – or fellow Scot Ray Banks, then. Banks’ Cal Inness quartet is the real deal. Inness is true loser. He’s a screw up. A lush. A mess. A man so far in denial he’s in the Suez. In each  brilliant tale he bangs his head against as many brick walls as he can. And he feels the pain. And so do we. The quartet is as bitter and dark as an Irish coffee and leads to a shocking yet inevitable conclusion.

And there’s more: There’s Alan Guthrie who gave us the best novel of 2009 with SLAMMER; Nick Quantrill ‘Broken Dreams’ which looks at a Northern English town that has had it’s fair shair of kickings but still isn’t out for the count; Bad Penny Blues is Cathi Unsworth’s  ambitious look at  the many facets of London in the late fifties and early sixies; Comic genius Charlie William’s and his nightclub bouncer hero Royston Blake help you see life in a way that Paulo Coelho never will!
There are BRIT GRIT publishers too:  Newcastle’s Byker Books publish Industrial Strength Fiction such as the Radgepacket – Tales from the Inner Cities anthologies; Brighton based Pulp Press publish short, punchy novellas with the slogan ‘Turn Off Your T.V. and discover fiction like it used to be.’

And there’s even more …
There’s Howard Linskey, Martin Stanley, Jack Strange, Paul Heatley, Mrtina Cole,  Ben Cheetham, Christopher Black, Martyn Waites,Allen Miles, Danny Hogan, Chris Leek, Gary Dobbs,  Gareth Spark, Sheila Quigley, Ian Ayris, UV Ray, Danny King,  Col Bury, Mark Billingham,  Andrew Bell, Alan Griffiths (whose blog is aptly called BRIT GRIT), Julie Lewthwaite, Steve Mosby, Darren Sant, McDroll, Richard Godwin, Colin Graham, Neil White, Andy Rivers . . . and more! There’s even comic BRIT GRIT from Donna Moore and Christopher Brookmyre, BRIT GRIT thrillers from Matt Hilton and surrealist BRIT GRIT from Jason Michel!

And now, of course, we have True Brit Grit- A Charity Anthology edited by Luca Veste and me, with an introduction from Brit Grit mastermind Maxim Jakubowski. True Brit Grit is a hard-hitting, gritty, crime anthology  from 45 British writers. All coming together to produce an anthology, benefiting two charities.

Oh, and I even have a weekly column- Brit Grit Alley over at Out Of The Gutter Online!

“The BRIT GRIT mob is coming to kick down your door with hobnailed boots.
Kitchen-sink noir; petty-thief-louts; lives of quiet desperation; sharp,
blood-stained slices of life; booze-sodden brawls from the bottom of the barrel
and comedy that’s as black as it’s bitter–this is BRIT GRIT!”

(This is adapted from a piece that first appeared in the program for the 2010 Noircon and was later republished at Pulp Metal Magazine)

 

Ten Crime Books To Help Cure Your Hangover

Imagine  it’s a gloomy Monday morning. Outside your window, dark malignant clouds fill the sky. The residue of the weekend’s fun and frolics is draining away like dishwater down a plug hole. And work – the ultimate four letter word- is hanging over you like a hawk ready to strike its prey.

You want to turn over and smooch with Morpheus but you know you can’t. So what can haul you out of the pit and into the world as effectively as a hair of the devil dog that bit you?

Well, here are ten shots of crime writing medicine that will work as more than a little eye opener.

1.  Deadfolk      by Charlie Williams.

Royston Blake is god. Well, in his own mind he is. The head bouncer at Hopper’s Wine Bar is the king of Mangel, a dead end town somewhere in the north of England. In the first of a cracking series of books, Royston is dragged by his lapels into a series of wickedly funny and increasingly violent scrapes. This book will change your life in a way Paolo Coelho never will.

2. One Fine      Day In The Middle Of The Night by Christopher Brookmyre.

Die Hard An On Oil Rig. Like the pitch? In OFDITMOTN, a school reunion is held on an oil rig that has been converted into a luxury hotel. But when an inept bunch of terrorist mercenaries gate crash the party only Scotland’s answer to Bill Hicks can save the day. Yes, really.

3.      The Mexican Tree Duck by James Crumley.

The eponymous tree duck is Private Eye C.W. Sughrue’s Rara Avis and it’s part of a wild ride that is cluttered with multi-coloured characters and vivid, lurid even, scenes. You have bikers and obese twins and ‘Nam and stolen fish and booze. And a tank. This is a book for someone who, like C.W. Sughrue, thinks that ‘life is a joke, so make it a funny one.’

4.      Top 10 by Alan Moore, Gene Ha & Zander Cannon.

Like Ed McBain’s 87th precent novels, the graphic novel Top 10 details the work and day-to-day lives of the police force at one particular police station, in this case the 10th Precinct Police Station in Neopolis, a city in which everyone, from the police and criminals to civilians, children and pets, have super-powers.

One story involves the suspicious death of the member of a boy-band called Sidekix, whose hit single was Holy Broken Hearts, and other pop-culture in –jokes abound, including a clothing store called The Phonebooth and  Deadfellas, a story about vampire gangsters.

5&6. The Big O /Crime Always Pays by Declan Burke

The Big O and its follow up Crime Always Pays actually are that oxymoron

‘screwball noir’. These novels are like two cracking, fast paced, clever and very droll road movies with a top drawer cast that includes a narcoleptic called Sleeps and a one eyed wolf.  Twists and turns, spicy dialogue and scenes which really make you ‘LOL’, as the young people say.

7. On Broadway by Damon Runyon.

You know you’ve made it as a writer when your name is used as an adjective: Runyonesque.  Damon Runyon  is probably best known for the film adaptations of his stories such as Guys and Dolls and  The Lemon Drop Kid. He created his own world with a number of pithy short stories set amongst the low lifes of New York’s Broadway during the 1930. These yarns, sometimes shaggy dog stories, are peppered with gaudy, fast talking characters and smart punch lines. The language and the style is Runyon’s own.  Much copied –think of the film Some Like It Hot – and never bettered.

8. Musical Chairs by Kinky Friedman.

Kinky Friedman is his own number one fan. The country/ protest singer is also the hero of Friedman’s novels and the cast of these novels is Friedman’s cronies, The Greenwich Village Irregulars. But what could have been an elaborate in – joke is actually a series of very funny and entertaining mystery romps. In Musical Chairs Kinky riffs on Agatha Christie as the members of his old band, The Texas Jewboys, get bumped off one by one. Cracking live act, too.

9. BLUE HEAVEN by Joe Keenan

Gilbert Selwyn is selfish, feckless, greedy and, more pointedly, openly gay, so it comes as a bit of a surprise to all and sundry when he decides to get married and especially when the person he is going to marry is Moira Finch, a person who, to all intents and purposes, he had previously loathed. What their friends don’t know, however, is that the marriage of inconvenience is a plot hatched by the money grabbing ‘couple’ in order to score a payday on the wedding gifts.

Although you may not find anything as hum drum as a kitchen sink in this romp, you will stumble across the Mafia, cross dressing, blackmail and even a John Woo style shoot out.

10. Old Dogs by Donna Moore.

Donna Moore’s smashing caper yarn has an absurdly colourful cast of self- interested characters chasing a McGuffin, a pair of rare ornamental Tibetan dogs. There are laughs aplenty and great farcical moments in this sweary Ealing Comedy as the characters collide with and crash into each other in their attempts to get their grasping and grubby paws their treasure. Murder, mayhem and mischief abounds.

(This post first appeared at the Mulholland Books’ blog a couple of years ago but seems to have gone walkabout.)

True Brit Grit At The Cinema And On TV

True Brit Grit

A bit back, I wrote an article for The Sabotage Times about Brit Grit television. I took a gander at three shows in particular, Public Eye, Gangsters and Cracker. All were in-your-face, hard-hitting crime dramas from the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s respectively.

And now, it looks like a bunch of the writers that have contributed to the True Brit Grit charity anthology that I co-edited (with Luca Veste) are going to be putting the grit back on the box.

Tony Black, for example, is due to have his intense crime novel Long Time Dead made into a film, directed by Richard ‘Jobbo The Yobbo’ Jobson. And Black’s debut, Paying For It, is due to have the television treatment.

And there’s more.

Howard Linskey’s critically acclaimed The Drop is being adapted for the small screen by JJ ‘Layer Cake’ Connolly, no less!

Sheila Quigley’s Seahills Estate debut, Run For Home, has been scheduled to be made into a telly series, too.

Adrian Magson’s first Harry Tate novel, Red Station, is due to blast out on to big screen as the start of a franchise to equal that of Jason Bourne!

So, who’s next?

Certainly, Matt Hilton’s Joe Hunter thrillers would make great high-octane action cinema and wouldn’t someone like to be able to get a handle on Charlie Williams’ blackly-comic Mangel books or Ray Banks’ poignant Cal Innes Quartet?

So, if you want to get a taste of these stars in the making, you could do worse than pick up True Brit Grit- A Charity Anthology. Here’s the blurb:

“The BRIT GRIT mob is coming to kick down your door with hobnailed boots. Kitchen-sink noir; petty-thief-louts; lives of quiet desperation; sharp, blood-stained slices of life; booze-sodden brawls from the bottom of the barrel and comedy that’s as black as it’s bitter—this is BRIT GRIT!”

45 British writers, 45 short stories. All coming together to produce an anthology, benefiting two charities…
Children 1st – http://www.children1st.org.uk/
and
Francesca Bimpson Foundation – http://www.francescabimpsonfoundation.org

The line up…

Introduction by Maxim Jakubowski

1. Two Fingers of Noir by Alan Griffiths 2. Eat Shit by Tony Black 3. Baby Face And Irn Bru by Allan Guthrie 4. Pretty Hot T’Ing by Adrian Magson 5. Black Betty by Sheila Quigley 6. Payback: With Interest by Matt Hilton 7. Looking for Jamie by Iain Rowan 8. Stones in Me Pocket by Nigel Bird 9. The Catch and The Fall by Luke Block 10. A Long Time Coming by Paul Grzegorzek 11. Loose Ends by Gary Dobbs 12. Graduation Day by Malcolm Holt 13. Cry Baby by Victoria Watson 14. The Savage World of Men by Richard Godwin 15. Hard Boiled Poem (a mystery) by Alan Savage 16. A Dirty Job by Sue Harding 17. Stay Free by Nick Quantrill 18. The Best Days of My Life by Steven Porter 19. Hanging Stanley by Jason Michel 20. The Wrong Place to Die by Nick Triplow 21. Coffin Boy by Nick Mott 22. Meat Is Murder by Colin Graham 23. Adult Education by Graham Smith 24. A Public Service by Col Bury 25. Hero by Pete Sortwell 26. Snapshots by Paul D Brazill 27. Smoked by Luca Veste 28. Geraldine by Andy Rivers 29. A Minimum of Reason by Nick Boldock 30. Dope on a Rope by Darren Sant 31. A Speck of Dust by David Barber 32. Hard Times by Ian Ayris 33. Never Ending by McDroll 34. Imagining by Ben Cheetham 35. Escalator by Jim Hilton 36. Faces by Frank Duffy 37. A Day In The Death Of Stafford Plank by Stuart Ayris 38. The Plebitarian by Danny Hogan 39. King Edward by Gerard Brennan 40. This Is Glasgow by Steven Miscandlon 41. Brit Grit by Charlie Wade 42. Five Bags Of Billy by Charlie Williams 43. It Could Be You by Julie Morrigan 44. No Shortcuts by Howard Linskey 45. The Great Pretender by Ray Banks

Get stuck in there!